Wednesday, 10 February 2016
Take me home, to the cobbled streets of San Cristobal
A bijou gathering last night packed full of shorter, lighter fare. Jon was training up Phil and Sandra in Medieval Academy when I arrived and so David co-erced James and I into a Karlakencracking game about not saying the word ‘Hedgehog’. James was the least able to avoid doing this, and had to hang his head in shame at collecting almost the entire deck of cards as punishment. With things close to wrapping up at the Academy just as Noel arrived, who was thoroughly bemused at the three of us intermittently yelling the names of salad vegetables (and Cauliflowers... hmm... remind me not to order from the salad bar in a German restaurant...), there was little option other than for the four of us to break out that new modern classic Rhino Hero. The highlight here was David’s hilarious hamfisted howler when he brought the tower down on the very first turn. That is a very special achievement!
We then regrouped into two tables, with San Juan on the go at the ‘cool kids’ table, and some weird game about recreating Balamory on a hex-map by a funny sounding dude Danny X Macchiato or something. Well, that’s what all the colourful little houses reminded me of anyway.
In San Juan David went for what I will describe as a ‘short drawing’ strategy where he had plenty of cards that gave him a single card draw here and there, but no real economy to pull up big card drafts. He was also shovelling cards under the Chapel which had both Sandra and I nervous about the score he was racking up in the process, but which was at the same time keeping his hand small and limiting what he could afford to build. Sandra started off with a lean toward city building but switched midway to ramping up production to gain card draws. In the late game she tried to close out with more city cards but David had managed to thwart her by stuffing every 6-point card he found under the Chapel. Unfortunately for him, one of them got away, and the Guild Hall that I picked up was a perfect match for the strong production tableau that I had put together. At the end it was enough for me to clinch victory by a handful of points in what was a close game.
After that we broke out Castles of Ludwig, at which point David, concerned that he needed to have an early finish to the evening, jumped over to join Jon, James, and Noel in a trade for Phil who had been eyeing up the Bezier blue box all night long. Funnily enough they were into a second showing of San Juan when we had finished up with the castles, so much for the early exit! I also noted that David was up to his old tricks with short draws and the Chapel in play – it looked like an odd game with banks and harbours also in play leaving about half a dozen cards in the draw deck.
This was Sandra's first bash at building Bavarian balustrades and she took to it like a, well, like a German king takes to extravagant castles. Clearly, her childhood visits to Neuschwanstein helped her out here as she went for a very efficient build that crushed her competition on the goal tiles as well as synergising nicely with bonus cards in hand.
Philip had gone for the compact approach with a maze of small rooms, requiring visitors to march through a series of pantries, kitchens, rest rooms, and the occasional torture chamber in order to reach the bedroom, piling up a stack of bonus cards in the process that didn't quite match up with his build. He hogged virtually all the money in the early game, even forcing both his opponents into taking the dreaded '5 money action of impoverishment' at one point, but then began to spend wildly in the mid-game which opened things up a bit for the rest of us.
I had a vague notion of picking up lots of purple rooms and closing them off in batches with strategically placed corridors which I was getting a bonus score on. However, my spatial awareness skills seemed to have deserted me and I instead ended up with a mess of misshapen rooms that would not allow the corridors I was picking up to fit. It didn't help that my castle was 'disrupted' at one point and I couldn't even seem to get everything back the way it originally was - a total mess! Even so, I managed to pick up a couple of hearty scores toward the end to save my embarrassment, and we all posted good scores of well over a hundred points each; Sandra still raced away with a good twenty-odd point lead at the final counting.
To finish off the night I twisted arms (though not very hard) into a trip to Deep Sea Asshole land. It was Noel’s first time at hogging all the air supply but he heeded our words of caution and ignored Jon’s exhortations to keep diving deeper, and in an IBG first we all made it back to the ship safe and sound in two out of the three rounds. Phil took the honours there by quietly amassing a ton of tiny trinkets that added up to a big boat load of moolah.